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Battle over non-profits paying water fees

Religious leaders and some aldermen called on Mayor Emanuel on Tuesday to drop his push to charge non-profits for water usage.

Over the weekend, city leaders said they plan to pitch a new bill that would exempt non-profits from the fees if they have net assets of less than $1 million. Non-profits with more than $1 million would pay fees based on a progressive scale.

There would be no exemption for non-profits with net assets of more than $250 million.

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Religious leaders and some aldermen called on Mayor Emanuel on Tuesday to drop his push to charge non-profits for water usage.

Over the weekend, city leaders said they plan to pitch a new bill that would exempt non-profits from the fees if they have net assets of less than $1 million. Non-profits with more than $1 million would pay fees based on a progressive scale.

There would be no exemption for non-profits with net assets of more than $250 million.

At St. Paul Church of God in Christ at 45th and Wabash, the Interfaith Coalition to Restore the Water Exemption Fee called on the Emanuel administration to end its efforts.

They argue these critical organizations need every penny possible to do good work for communities. They also say this bill hurts poor non-profits that sit on pricy land.

Ald. Howard Brookins questioned how the city can differentiate between hospitals like Northwestern Memorial and the University of Chicago, and a small shelter.

At least 29 of the city’s 50 aldermen are supporting a bill that would allow water fees for some non-profits, but not others.

WGN News Writer C. Hayes published this report.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago aldermen are offering a compromise to religious leaders who object to paying a water bill after decades of a blanket exemption.

A new ordinance on the table will mean free water again for non-profits with net assets of less than a $1 million Those with up to $250 million in assets would receive a discount.

Some 4,000 eligible non-profits are currently billed for 60 percent of their water use.

If the proposed changes do not go through, all nonprofits will be charged for 80 percent of their water use beginning next year.

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